Sensel Morph vs Roli Seaboard

I bought a Morph during a Black Friday Sale last year as an inexpensive way to try MPE. Now I am hooked. I love programing my own super expressive sample-based MPE instruments. I love mangling field recordings and blending them by hand with more tonal sounds. I typically use it with Max, Pigments, Kontakt, Quanta, Serum, etc, depending on my needs.

I will keep the Morph around for it’s flexibility and portable size. I have also created a few custom overlays for it, which has been a blast. For keyboard style playing, I am craving something larger - more octaves, larger key areas.

I have spent time with the Roli Seaboard Rise at a handful of conferences and in-store demos, but it has been a while.

My biggest worry is that the Roli Rise is not as sensitive as the Morph. I love how the Morph’s range goes from the lightest touch to absolutely laying on it. Is the Rise comparable?

Does anyone have both? What are your thoughts?

Thanks in advance!

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Hi and welcome!
I have both. The feeling is completely different. There isn’t a 100% equivalent of a bigger Morph I know of, so best write Sensel - the more ask the more likely they might consider it :slight_smile:
That said, having several is a way out. You just cannot e.g. pitch bend across Morphs and you need a USB hub which can be inconvenient and a source of failures. The not-bending-between-Morphs thing can be seen as inherent property though - one may just accept it. The upside is that such a “modular big surface” is quite portable. The downside is the setup time each time before you can start to play…
Have thus put my Morphs on a guitar pedal board - which makes it more heavy but also more plug&play:

From the existing instruments the Soundplane might come closest to a bigger Morph. The wooden surface is also very responsive for percussive stuff (scanning rate is even higher). Don’t know anybody who is using it that way though, but technically you have an xyz-input, so one might create arbitrary overlays for Seaboard, too. No SenselApp/Morph-firmware existing either, so one might have to use e.g. Max or Pure Data etc. to do the programming for your specific overlay. Seaboard afaik only works with Macs though.

Continuum is also in that realm, but haptics are quite different. Technically it’s also xyz, so you could come up with own overlays.
Both Continuum and Soundplane come with default ways to play them though which might be worth exploring first. (Soundplane is grid based, like the Linnstrument and can e.g. be tuned in fourth like a bass guitar, Continuum is by default pitch-in-on-axis like piano, just continuous and two expression axis for y and z.
Seabord is always like a seaboard I think, it might be difficult to repurpose it. If you are looking for a super expressive piano-like experience I would also consider the Osmose. Eagan Matrix (the synth inside it) is very good and it is even closer to a usual piano experience. Pitch bending for more than a semitone is more intuitive on Seaboard though, Osmose is afaik more like an Eigenharp - good for vibrato, less for glissandi etc.

Regarding responsiveness: Percussive stuff is imho better on Morph than on Seaboard - particularly a Morph used without any overlay (e.g. “Continuum-style”) is very responsive. Morph also can create more in-between pitches. Seaboard seems always to quantize to quarternotes. Which honestly isn’t too obvious when playing usual stuff - but might get in your way when you have more avantgarde experiments outside the 12 tone scale in mind.

Thanks for the detailed reply!

I think the smaller Morph has all the flexibility I need as far as custom overlays go. The main reason for my interest in the Roli is to use as a dedicated MPE keyboard with large key areas and several octaves.

I think the Roli Rise 49 meets all of my requirements:

  • Piano keyboard-like layout
  • X/Y playing surface (I am not a fan of the fact that the Osmoe does not have true Y or continuous X)
  • No built in sounds (I know this sounds weird, but I am really only interested in creating my own sample and field recording based instruments on the computer. I am not interested in any other method of sound generation. Built-in sound engines will only be a distraction for the current projects I am working on.)

My largest worry is the Roli’s dynamic range (in Z). I know it doesn’t feel the same as a Morph, but would you say the dynamic range is equivalent?

A larger Morph would be a dream, and I will certainly submit a ticket to Sensel.

Thanks again!

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Precise percussive attacks imho aren’t as easy on the Seaboard as on the Morph because of the thickness of the material. It doesn’t react at the slightest touch of a feather (like e.g. Eigenharps), you have to press it down a little to react. But of course still possible. The technical z-resolution of the Morph might be a little higher than on Seaboard. But due to the tactile surface of the Seaboard a defined pressure level is easier to achieve on the Seaboard. (Depends a little on the overlay you use on the Morph. E.g. a neoprene overlay is already better regarding tactile and controlled playing on the Morph than the usual plastic overlays from Sensel).
Usually I would advise you to try one out (Seaboards aren’t so seldom). Currently not the best idea perhaps though…

Great! The more the better!

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Honestly I struggle with Roli’s Seaboard Block in terms of CC74 dimension. Due to the difference between length of black and white keys its always inconsistant, so I don’t use it at all, only pressure.

Sometimes I want to rip the original surface off and get something uniform.

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This is all great information to have. Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

I have tried Seaboards in the past but not for long enough to really get to know one.

Maybe I really should just get a second Morph and wait for my dream product to come out…

I can see how that would be bothersome. The accidentals on the Morph piano overlay are shorter than the natural notes, but it has never bothered me. Creating custom overlays on the Morph is pretty easy too if you wanted something more uniform. I highly recommend it.

I wonder if this is a problem on the larger Rolis.

The Rise 49 is a little bit larger, but the concept is the same (haven’t played a Block yet, only have the Rise). Another imho unnecessary inconsisteny is that the distance of semitones in the upper half isn’t the same for all notes like it is for a real piano. (e/f and b/c are as wide apart as a white key in the lower half). Don’t understand why they gave up this nice property of pianos. But it’s still pretty playable as it is, not a bad instrument at all.

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I don’t think anyone has figured out what to do with that dimension yet.

(Well, no one but Haken. But I can’t afford a Continuum.)

K-Board Pro 4 at least gives you several options, but I’m not in love with any of them.

I have a Seaboard Rise 49 and don’t call it a keyboard but rather a touch sensitive surface with bumps. It responds very quickly while your fingers just fly over it. Pressure is not as precise as you might expect. I’m not a keyboard player and need to adjust the velocity to make it playable for me and find Aftertouch a little rough. I love the the vertical movement although you need to get used to the bumps formed by the three height levels of the keys. And I love the generous gestures of polyphonic bending on the lower and upper strip. Wiggling on keys works also very good.

You don’t really feel the keys and they can be hard to see, depending on the light situation (think of a stage performance). Less problem for a good player of course. One speciality: There is no glissando on the keys, no legato by sliding a finger from one key do another. At least I did not find a setting yet that allows it.

Max was mentioned in this thread. Right now I am working on a Max interface for the Seaboard Rise to integrate it into my sound system. Not really funny … I cannot control everything and I do not get feedback from the device for everything and not consistently. Roli mixes SysEx, NRPN and RPN and there are some bugs in the Roli software, bugs or missing features in the Roli Max objects, some unnecessary restrictions and some flexibility that should not be here. For my feeling Roli is happy that the Rise works with their own Dashboard software but didn’t think about other people and remote control. If you want to control a Rise, you may be happier if you implement just what you really need.

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I hear you. I use relative mode on c74 with some custom curves to good effect instead.

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